A smaller frontcourt hasn’t slowed the Campbell County High School boy’s varsity basketball team one bit this season.
The Cougars (3-2 overall) are making up for their lack of size underneath the basket with scrappy effort and a don’t-back-down attitude. That philosophy worked well last week for Campbell County, which won 2 out of 3 games while playing on the road.
“For us to be successful this season, we have to be the 2010 incarnation of Rupp’s Runts,” said Cougars coach Barry Jones.
“We must force tempo and play fast. Our identity as a program is built on the three-legged stool of blue-collar effort, physical and mental toughness and resilience. We will not out-skill or out-talent anybody on our schedule, and that’s okay. We just have to bring it every night.
“That still doesn’t guarantee we’ll win, but it gives us a chance.”
After going 1-1 during TSSAA Hall of Fame Games played on their home court, the Cougars took their show on the road Tuesday, Nov. 23 at Greeneville’s Hal Henard Gymnasium. Campbell County was able to beat the Greene Devils, 79-72, with some clutch shooting by guards Lucas Nelson and Ethan Miller and forward Dylan Stanfield.
With Stanfield hitting 3 consecutive treys, Campbell County built a 22-14 first quarter lead. Greeneville went on a 16-0 run to grab an 8-point lead heading into the second quarter. Sophomore guard Corey Poteet tied it up, 33-33, with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Tyler Chapman and Stanfield made free throws to get the lead back for the Cougars, who held a 45-41 advantage at the end of a high-scoring first half.
“I was really concerned about being on the road for the first time. I didn’t know how we would respond,” said Jones.
“We got out to a good start. (Junior forward) Nick (Litton) finally played through foul trouble. We got some huge contributions from Tyler Chapman. I think we grew up a little bit tonight. We made some decisions at the end to win the game.”
Campbell County led by five, 64-59, going to the fourth quarter, where Nelson scored 8 of his team-high 18 points to help clinch the victory. Simpson scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half.
Litton finished with 15 points for the Cougars, followed by Stanfield with 13, Poteet 9, Jordan Kindred 4, Gunner St. John and Chapman 3 each.
Stanfield and Poteet combined for 6 of Campbell County’s 8 treys during the game. The Cougars made 19-of-29 foul shots.
Greeneville guard Trevor Ford scored 18 points to tie Nelson for game scoring honors. Jacob Cobble and Taylor Blair chipped in 12 points each for the Greene Devils, while Bryan Everhart had 11.
Greeneville hit half a dozen 3-pointers and connected on 16-of-21 free throws.
In junior varsity action, the Cougars lost, 74-55.
Campbell County wrapped up a busy week at the Heritage Thanksgiving Classic. The Cougars dropped an 86-77 decision to Maryville on Friday before bouncing back with an 83-71 victory over Heritage on Saturday.
“Maryville handled our pressure well and hit open shots (8 treys),” said Jones.
“We played well on offense, we just didn’t guard anybody.”
The Rebels ran out to a commanding 26-6 lead and had three players score 20 or more points.
Litton scored a career-high 25 points for Campbell County, which cut Maryville’s lead to 7 points in the fourth quarter but could get no closer. Nelson added 19 points, followed by Poteet with 14 and Simpson 12.
Litton torched Heritage for 22 points, while Nelson and St. John had 15 each, Simpson 14 and Kindred 13. St. John scored all his points on five 3-point bombs and was 5-of-6 from behind the arc.
“We did a better job of defending, but, then again, Heritage isn’t the team that Maryville is," said Jones.
“Our schedule is tougher this year than at any time since I’ve been here. Coming into this season, I knew we had a hard-working group. I’m real happy with their work ethic. We don’t have any stars, just a blue-collar bunch.
“Everybody has to contribute.”